Anyone who has played with Lego bricks as a child would be both thrilled and a little overwhelmed by the sheer variety of what could be built simply by using creative imagination. Yet, older Lego was very square and some instructions were provided to construct some simple structures.
Without the instructions, however, builders needed to know what bricks to choose, how to assemble them properly and when to change if a design isn’t coming together properly. The same is true when it comes to combining EA principles with technology business management (TBM), said Jeff Chancellor, principal systems engineer of Software AG Government Solutions.
“There are so many different technologies in use,” Chancellor said. “[We need] people who can put something together differently and change on a dime if it doesn’t work.”
The key solution, Chancellor emphasized, is applying an enterprise architecture (EA) approach to TBM, allowing organizations to see how systems and software connect to one another, standardize around a set of technologies and lower operating costs by modernizing poorly performing assets and reducing the number of technical skills an organization needs to run its infrastructure.
“Everything is connected to everything,” Chancellor said, driving home the importance of using EA metrics to evaluate the technology. EA not only allows organizations to see which poorly performing systems are becoming a “frustration factor,” but also provides insight into the upstream and downstream dependencies on those systems. This whole of environment perspective enables IT teams to make a business case for which systems to modernize and invest in and which systems are not contributing to the organization’s growth or mission.
This perspective is especially important at the federal level. Last year, Congressman Gerry Connolly shared that roughly 70 to 80% of federal IT spending went toward maintaining legacy systems, accounting for at least $67 billion in expenditures. Agencies see the financial motivation to modernize, but with limited IT budgets, they can face uncertainty into how spend their funds wisely.
Another reason to take an EA approach to technology business management is to navigate that uncertainty. Agencies have used the approach to get insight into “what’s coming next,” Chancellor said. This allows government agencies to focus their spending on removing outdated, redundant and troublesome systems and maximizing the value of modernization. By itself, EA is not a silver bullet, but by incorporating the cost management aspect, it provides a greater understanding of when and where organizations can sensibly invest in modernization.
Finally, the metrics EA provide visibility into how new assets are implemented, giving organizations the information they need to make risk determinations around resiliency and access. Seeing how systems are connected allows security teams to visualize risk not just for the asset itself, but also for the entire network.